As a whitewater enthusiast living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s only natural that my summer days are spend kayaking and river rafting in Oregon and Washington! If you’re thinking of visiting the Pacific Northwest this summer, road trips are a classic way for families and friends to spend their summer vacations. I have countless memories from my childhood of road-tripping with my family, and our destinations always had to do with nature, and often included river rafting. My family cherishes the memories of blasting music in the car, spending quality time together, camping under the stars, exploring new and wild places, and river rafting in Oregon, Washington, and all over the West! If you’re planning a road trip and are looking for the best river rafting in Oregon and Washington, here is our ideal itinerary for a rafting road trip through the Pacific Northwest, from Southern Oregon to Seattle!
Top 10 Destinations for River Rafting in Oregon and Washington
- Upper Klamath River
- Rogue River
- Deschutes River
- North Santiam River
- Clackamas River
- White Salmon River
- Klickitat River
- Tieton River
- Wenatchee River
- Skykomish River
River Rafting in Oregon
Upper Klamath River – Ashland, OR
Make the Upper Klamath River your first stop for whitewater rafting in Oregon with Momentum River Expeditions. With Class IV+ whitewater, the “Upper K” will get your adrenaline going. It is characterized by long rapids, lava rock canyons, and big water. Get ready for a blind turn around Hell’s Corner and facing Caldera rapid, the crux of this exciting trip.
Rogue River – Medford, OR
The Nugget section of the Rogue River is an exciting 5 mile stretch featuring two class IV rapids called Nugget Falls and Powerhouse, and is perfect for anyone who wants a quick trip with a few exciting rapids. The headwaters of the Rogue River flow from a spring on the west side of Crater Lake, making this trip with Momentum River Expeditions a great choice for anyone with Crater Lake National Park on their road trip itinerary!
Deschutes River, Maupin, OR
The Deschutes River is one of the most popular destinations for river rafting in Oregon. Whether you opt for a half-day or full-day trip, you’ll look forward to Boxcar Rapid and the grand finale, Oak Springs Rapid. This high-desert river will offer different scenery and you’ll love jumping in to escape the summer heat! This trip is close and convenient for anyone planning a vacation to Bend!
North Santiam River – Salem, OR
The North Santiam River is a quick detour off I-5 near Salem, OR. This trip is known for its fall colors in September and October! The rapids are fun and friendly, making it a great river for families all summer long. Experience the beautiful autumn leaves on the North Santiam River with River Drifters.
Clackamas River – Estacada, OR
When rafting the Clackamas River with River Drifters, you will experience the tightly knit, green foliage of the Pacific Northwest in the canyon of Basalt lava rock. This river is a truly magical experience with clear blue water, endless greenery, and exciting rapids like “Powerhouse” and “Carter Bridge.” The Clackamas River a great choice for rafting near Portland!
River Rafting in Washington
White Salmon River – White Salmon, WA / Hood River, OR
No trip to the Columbia River Gorge is complete without rafting the White Salmon River. With its class III-IV whitewater, the White Salmon offers big, exciting rapids, active paddling, and an unforgettable adventure for whitewater rafting near Portland. Fed from the glaciers of the majestic Mt. Adams and aquifers beneath surrounding orchards, the river’s water runs crystal clear all year.
Once a lava tube, the White Salmon River runs through narrow, volcanic basalt canyons before heading out into the warm sunshine of a forested valley. Perfect for beginners and advanced rafters who are looking for river rafting in Oregon or Washington! Join Wet Planet Whitewater for half-day and full-day trips, offered all summer long!
Klickitat River – Lyle, WA
A Klickitat River rafting trip combines the continuous thrill of never-ending class II-III rapids with the striking beauty of deep wilderness. Like a conveyor belt winding through paradise, the Klickitat River exposes rafting guests to thick pine forests, steep canyons, basalt cliffs, twisted lava formations and scrub oak forests.
One of the only ways to experience true Pacific Northwest wilderness, this whitewater raft trip gets you away from the roads and crowds in other popular recreation destinations within Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Wet Planet Whitewater offers Klickitat river rafting in April and May each year!
Tieton River – Naches, WA
The fast-flowing and non-stop roller coaster waves of the Tieton River make for a fun and exciting trip! This trip is a great option for river rafting near Seattle. Gorgeous foliage and towering ponderosa pines line the forested river banks and basalt gorges. If you’re able to catch this river during the scheduled dam releases in September, this Washington river rafting trip with Wet Planet is the perfect addition to any Pacific Northwest road trip!
Wenatchee River – Cashmere, WA
A day on the Wenatchee River with Wildwater River Guides is the perfect way to spend an afternoon rafting near Seattle. The Wenatchee River features family-friendly river rafting with its fun, Class III whitewater. Get ready for big waves and fun, splashy rapids!
Rafting in Washington is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Complete your Wenatchee River rafting trip with a German beer in the nearby Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth!
Skykomish River – Gold Bar, WA
Massive boulders and crystal clear water make the Skykomish River an unforgettable adventure for rafting near Seattle. With its class III-IV rapids, “the Sky” will keep you on your toes. Get excited for the infamous Class V rapid, “Boulder Drop!” This exciting trip is a perfect choice for experiences rafters looking for Class V rafting near Seattle. Wildwater River Guides offers rafting trips on the Skykomish River on weekends during the month of June.
Whitewater rafting is the perfect addition to any road trip. Each river is a new adventure, with new scenery and exciting rapids. Whether you’re looking for river rafting near Portland, want a weekend getaway outside of Seattle, or are planning your big summer road trip, river rafting in Oregon and Washington has the best whitewater in the country!
Author Sharon is a kayak instructor and Reservations Manager at Wet Planet. She is always stoked to share her love of whitewater and to be a part of the incredible team at Wet Planet! Read more by Sharon here.